Some businesses openly flouting law by staying open on second day of nationwide Covid-19 lockdown

On the second day of the nationwide lockdown, some New Zealand businesses are openly flouting the law by staying open until police move to shut them down.

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Butcheries and bakeries are supposed to be closed but some are openly defiant, as are their customers. Source: 1 NEWS

The government's ruled butcheries and bakeries cannot stay open under the lockdown rules, but that hasn't stopped some.

A butcher shop in the Lower Hutt suburb of Naenae was open today, with multiple signs in the window encouraging customers to come in.

When spoken to by 1 NEWS from outside the shop, the owner, who didn’t want to be named, said he’d had “plenty” of customers, and that around 15 people had come into the shop in their first hour of opening.

The owner said there aren’t any supermarkets immediately nearby so they had chosen to stay open.

“We had about $15,000 worth of stock and no one to sell it to. How do you say afloat?” he said.

The government says butchers, bakeries and similar small-scale food retailers are considered non-essential, as similar products are readily available in supermarkets.

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The owner of the butchery says police visited the shop this morning, but that he would stay open to serve customers until police returned in person to close the shop down.

“We've had the police here to see us… they asked us why we were open and we told them, they asked us what was the story going forward and she said she would go back and talk to her superiors and get back to us.”

When 1 NEWS read out the information from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website to shop staff clarifying the rules around butcheries, a worker shrugged and said “a lot of customers disagree”.

“Until we’re shut down, we’re here.”

When asked about the butchers in her daily press conference this afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asked for the name of the butchers, signalling she’d look into it. She also made a plea to other businesses flouting the rules.

“I know this is a very difficult time for businesses, our butchers, our bakers, our grocers… but if every single one of them opened up across the country, it defeats the point. It opens up a huge chain of transmission, so I'm asking them to do right by their community and to close.”

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Some have criticised the fact that the Imperial Tobacco Company remains in production, but the company says the government has allowed it.

The Prime Minister says that’s because the factory supplies to supermarkets.

“If you supply to supermarkets those workforces are able to continue to produce supplies for our supermarkets,” she said.

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Wellington bakery Arobake is doing home deliveries.

On Facebook the company says that’s because it also supplies to supermarkets but that it would stop “should MBIE have a different view.”

Wellington craft brewer Garage Project is also doing home deliveries.

In a statement, MBIE told 1 NEWS that deliveries of baked goods and beer is not an essential service.

“Beer can be bought at supermarkets and liquor stores. Delivery of prepared meals that are pre-cooked are the same as takeaways and are not covered,” an MBIE spokesperson said.

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Outside the butchers in Naenae, the vast majority of customers 1 NEWS spoke to said it should be allowed to stay open.

On the Naenae community Facebook page, Tracey Small said, “Thanks for trying to be there for your community. After all this I know I will shop local and get all my meat from you guys. Hoping this causes a big mind shift for others too. Shop local.”

Char Marie said of the shop staying open,  “That's awesome news for the locals. let's hope they're not greedy like the rest of these outlets.”

But not all agreed.

Facebook user Kaaren Tulloch described the move as “disgusting.”

“Putting people at risk and not adhering to the government directives. You should be ashamed. Hope you get shut down and fined. Who made you God?”

When the owner was asked if he was being responsible by staying open, he told 1 NEWS, “I think it’s responsible to the people of the area.”